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Duchess Pens Story Of 'Little Red'

The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, wears many hats: charity fundraiser and activist; mother to two teenage girls; spokeswoman for Weight Watchers; and children's book author.

It was in her role as author that she visited The Early Show Tuesday morning.

"Little Red" is the fifth illustrated children's book for the duchess, who penned the very popular "Budgie The Little Helicopter" series.

She tells The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm the inspiration for "Little Red" started as an idea to help others. Ferguson says in 1994 she helped set up a U.S.-based charity called "Chances for Children." Its aim is to help forgotten children in America.

Ferguson says, "Little Red is a doll I carry around everywhere. She is alive. She was designed for 'Chances for Children' as the logo to give children the right to dream and grow, so I thought 'Why not write a children's book about her adventures with her friend, Little Blue.' They go on adventures to help other people."

The whole notion of helping others is something that's valuable to teach kids and not often seen, Storms notes. Ferguson adds, "Children hear such bad news. And we want to give our children a chance to dream and grow. Tinkerbell does exist. We don't keep to Peter Pan. There can be magic dust in this book, you know? It's all right for adults to jump over another adult. I do think that children, nowadays, must be allowed to read more instead of sitting watching TV. I think it's important. I think that children must go into the world of make-believe."

The duchess explains she wanted a positive image of a child as a symbol to represent "Chances for Children." Her sketch of Little Red became the emblem for the charity. Because the emblem fascinated many people, Ferguson decided to make Little Red into a doll, which was sold in FAO Schwartz with all of the proceeds going to Chances for Children.

Ferguson says since Little Red, the doll, has been on sale in the U.S. for some time, it was time that she wrote a book about her adventures. Now, children everywhere can enjoy Little Red's tales. Ferguson says she hopes her courage inspires children to explore life to the fullest and helps adults as well, as they read to their children.

She says, "I'm thinking, What would a parent actually want to try and help their child do?' A child always thinks a dragon lives under the bed, you know? So what I say to my girls is, Go under the bed with a broomstick and say, 'Get out, you naughty dragon, go on!' So Little Red says, 'We're going to find the noise, let's not be frightened. Maybe we'll make good friends if we do, who knows.' And they find they've made new friends. Thank goodness they faced the fear of the noise because they found a real joy of new friend."

Asked if Little Red's character has more in common with the duchess than just the hair color, Ferguson says, "I think Little Red is like my ego. She does things I may not do, but perhaps she does do it anyway."

She notes she likes to write children's books because inside, she still likes to be a child. She says, "I like to look at life through childhood's eyes because I think it means you can be spontaneous and creative and just have fun, you know? We're all so serious. And, you know, on Sept. 11, the dull Little Red was in the window of the World Trade Center. Little Red was picked up by a fireman and she came out and I looked and said, 'You know what? She survived.' We got to keep fighting on to give our children a right to dream and grow.'"

Ferguson's charity offices were housed in the World Trade Center. Some time after the attacks, a firefighter found one of the "Little Red" dolls in the rubble. The dolls were initially created to raise money for the charity, but after that doll was found, Ferguson looked on the dolls as symbols of hope. It was one of the inspirations for writing the book.

Click here to see an excerpt.

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